By the second week of February, 80 percent of individuals with New Year's resolutions will have given up. Research shows that failure occurs most often because of goals that are too big and too vague, such as losing weight. A perceived lack of …
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By the second week of February, 80 percent of individuals with New Year's resolutions will have given up. Research shows that failure occurs most often because of goals that are too big and too vague, such as losing weight. A perceived lack of progress leads to a feeling of not having achieved enough and still having so far to go, ultimately resulting in defeat. But experts say it is possible to reach your goals and finally see your resolution through. Just make the right resolution.
Having a broad goal such as losing weight is good, but it would be even more effective to have a goal each day of doing something positive to get to that goal. Whether it is walking around the neighborhood after dinner or eating a self-prepared lunch instead of eating takeout, these small goals will add up to impact the overall goal of losing weight.
Mary Walsh, 57, said that year after year, for 15 years she had the same goal of losing weight. After four weeks of restricting foods, she would lose a few pounds at the most and then lose the desire to continue. After gaining those, and some additional pounds, she never felt she had what it took to succeed. But in 2018, with the help of a health coach, she changed her goals to focus on daily habits that were easy to change.
"For me, eating meals was important and something I felt I could do," Mary said. "Previously, instead of eating breakfast, I would drink coffee and eat a handful of pretzels. Many times I would skip lunch to get more work done, and I would get a candy bar out of the vending machine. By the time I got off work, I would be absolutely exhausted and starving. The nearest fast food restaurant was always there for my ride home. I would finish my meal before I even got home and would still be hungry, so I would make more food."
With her 2018 resolution to take the time to eat, Mary was eating regular healthy meals. She shared, "Six weeks of taking the time to eat real food helped me lose more weight than all the 15 years combined of trying it my way. My habits had to change, and I was serious and ready! I was once a daily weigher, but now I see that the weight is not going to come off overnight, so I weigh every four weeks. It has freed me and given me a more positive relationship with myself."
Before you decide to give up on your goals, reassess your goals and change that big goal into small daily goals that you know you can achieve. Plan for setbacks, and remain flexible. Ask yourself these questions: Are you motivated? Do you have the ability to do it? What steps will you take? Do you have the time? Is it realistic and achievable? Is it meaningful to you, or is it something you are doing because everyone else is? Is it something you can maintain for the long term?
Experts say the most frustrating aspect of wanting to achieve a goal is having unrealistic expectations as to what it will actually take and how long it will take. If you continue to fail, look at your behavior and try to find out where the breakdown is and find a better alternative.
Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 773-1404.
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